I always really enjoy making bread, or yeast based recipes I should say, even though I don’t make them very often. It’s always a bit of an experiment because of my lack of confidence and familiarity with bread techniques. It’s getting there though, practice makes perfect as they say!
One of my main problems is that I don’t stick to the basics enough. The best advice would be to start with a simple recipe, perfect it, and then start to play around with the flavours. Sometimes there just not enough time for all that and you just want to dive right in to combining two recipes with a dash of your own ideas.
Sometimes this is a disaster. Sometimes this is a success.
Now, perhaps if this focaccia recipe was presented to Paul Hollywood he would not be handing out any star baker accolades (sorry, I just finished watching the Bake Off) , but I thoroughly enjoy it. The bread has a slightly crispy exterior with a spicy, fruity, chewy interior and the maple glaze adds a perfect extra sweetness. It equally makes a great breakfast and bedtime snack served cold or warmed in the oven.
There is a lot of waiting around for this focaccia but very little to actually do, I’d say it’s a perfect lazy weekend recipe to try out. [Pre-bake]
I mean, the waiting times are around 40-50 minutes, the exact length of a TV episode. I’m thinking TV marathon with bread. Currently I’m rewatching Brothers and Sisters, I loved that show! [Post-bake, pre-glaze]
If your focaccia starts to get a little well done on the top just lightly cover with tin foil. It doesn’t really matter though, it’s adds extra texture! [Baked and glazed]
Apple and Sultana Focaccia
400g warm water
40g olive oil
500g strong white flour
50g caster sugar
7g instant yeast
150g cored, diced apple
For the glaze:
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
Add the sultanas in to a bowl and cover with the water. Leave to sit for about 2o minutes.
Drain the sultanas retaining the liquid. Mix the water with the olive oil and set aside.
Measure the flour in to a large bowl. To one side add the salt, sugar and cinnamon. Add the yeast to the other.
Pour in the water and oil mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. When about half of the flour in incorporated add in the soaked sultanas and diced apple and continue to mix until fully combined. The dough is very wet and sticky but don’t worry it’s supposed to be like that.
Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes.
The dough should have risen slightly during this time. Cover the finger tips of one hand with a little olive oil, to stop too much of the dough sticking when you handle it. Run your fingers around the perimeter of the bowl and fold the dough in on itself, with the same kind of motion you would use if you were folding flour in to cake batter. Do this three or four times until the dough is starting to hold its shape.
Again, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest for a further 50 minutes, or overnight in the fridge.
Pour about two tablespoons of oil on to a baking tray, roughly 30cm x 20cm. Tip the focaccia mix out on to the prepared tray. Fold the dough in half, rotate one quarter turn before folding in half again. This should help the dough to hold it’s shape more than before.
Flatten out the dough with your fingers, gently pushing it in to the corners. Cover lightly with oiled cling film and leave to prove for one last 50 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
Remove the clingfilm and, using your fingers, randomly press down in to the dough to make indentations. You can press right down to the tray but try not to rip the dough. Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until dark golden brown.
Whilst the read is in the oven prepare the glaze by mixing together the syrup and oil in a small bowl.
Remove from the oven and whilst the bread in still warm brush with the olive oil and maple syrup mixture.